Evan Engram hasn’t been on the field in practice the past two days, prompting Giants coach Pat Shurmur to tell reporters “you can do the math” regarding the underperforming tight end’s availability for Sunday’s game against Chicago.
The math hasn’t been in Engram’s favor for much of his discouraging second NFL season, neither in playing time nor in production, even before he suffered a strained hamstring in warm-ups and didn’t play in last week’s loss to Philadelphia.
Even before his latest injury — which would mark the second to cost him multiple games this season if he’s unable to suit up this weekend — Engram’s snap percentage had been cut dramatically in victories the previous two weeks over San Francisco and Tampa Bay.
The former first-round pick was expected to provide another potent offensive option alongside Odell Beckham Jr. and rookie Saquon Barkley this season, but has Engram’s mysterious step-back season worsened to the point that he’s concerned about his immediate and future role with the organization?
“I’m not really necessarily trying to prove anything, just doing what I do and working with the team and making plays when it comes my way,” Engram said Thursday. “Obviously, you definitely want to be out there more and making more plays. My mindset is just doing whatever I’m asked. So I’m not frustrated, but you want to be out there more, make more plays and be more a part of the offense.
“I’m just doing what I’m asked and we were winning [those two games before the Eagles loss], so it wasn’t nothing to complain about.”
Engram was the final first-round pick of the Jerry Reese regime, but first-year general manager Dave Gettleman already has cut one recent first-rounder (Ereck Flowers) and traded another (Eli Apple) this season, while also shipping out Reese free-agent signing Damon Harrison.
After an encouraging rookie campaign in which he amassed 64 receptions for 722 yards and six touchdowns, the 24-year-old Engram has totaled only 23 catches for 257 yards and two scores in seven appearances this season.
The 23rd-overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft out of Mississippi played a season-low 17-of-53 offensive snaps against the Bucs on Nov. 18, less than half of Rhett Ellison’s total (40) and one fewer than third-string tight end Scott Simonson.
“Whatever they see in practice is definitely important, definitely showing up each and every day and trying to execute the game plan throughout the week and then just kind of getting in the rhythm of the game,” Engram said. “The past two weeks [before the injury] I was able to make some plays toward the end of the games and when you make those plays, you definitely want to be put in more situations going forward.”
Indeed, of Engram’s two catches in the Tampa game, one was a key 54-yard catch and run in the fourth quarter to help seal the win.
Still, beyond his situation, Engram stressed any frustration is “more from a team perspective.” At 3-8, the Giants are one loss from clinching their second consecutive losing campaign since he arrived.
“Definitely, especially with the injuries and some of the games we let slip away,” said Engram, who also missed three games earlier this season with a knee issue. “Where we are now is definitely somewhere we don’t want to be, but we still have some more weeks left, some more games left, and we can do a lot of good in that time. You can’t really dwell on the past. Definitely some unfortunate things have happened, you just have to keep pushing and working.”